New Zealand’s junior riders are gifted, talented and going places. Year after year they show this at the world junior championships. As long as we’ve watched them ride we’ve seen them positively bristling with potential, but 2016 was something else.
Who could have thought that heading into the UCI Junior World Track Championships New Zealand would come out of it top of the medals table? But top it they did. New Zealand have the finest junior track cyclists in the world, statistically I don’t think that can be questioned. Should these juniors make a positive transition over to elite level watch out Olympic medals!
The men’s team pursuit squad were brilliant. In 2005 it was Jesse Sergent, Wes Gough and Sam Bewley who all featured in the junior men’s team pursuit gold medal winning ride. This time it was Campbell Stewart, Jared Gray, Tom Sexton and Josh Scott who led the charge through qualifying. After making it through to the final in convincing fashion Connor Brown replaced Scott for the match against Denmark. Not only did their ride secure them the gold medal, but it also secured them a world record with their time of 4.01.409mins taking more than a second off of the previous world junior record.
Team pursuit glory would be the first of two more gold medals at world junior championship level for Campbell Stewart, to go with the two he won in 2015. He would again run away the star of the championships, as he then went to the junior men’s omnium and successfully defended his crown won last year.
It’s not hard to see why our junior track riders were one of the moments that made 2016; they just kept bringing the accolades. Emma Cumming and Ellesse Andrews became the first Kiwi junior team sprint women’s pair to win gold in a world championships. Bradly Knipe was crowned junior sprint king. There were silver medals for our women’s team pursuiters, Michaela Drummond in the women’s omnium, the men’s madison and Bradly Knipe in the kilo time trial. Ellesse Andrews also took bronze in the individual pursuit.
We only hope the momentum continues to build and build for these incredible youngsters as they head into the future! Bring it on team!